On this day in History, December 23, 1919, inventor Alice H. Parker of Morristown, New Jersey, patented her design for the gas heating furnace. Parker’s design would help provide central heating in millions of homes and buildings around the world today.

Parker’s gas heating furnace revolutionized how people heat their homes. With her invention, people no longer needed to stock and burn wood in a traditional furnace, which presented a high fire risk when left unattended.

According to inventors.about.com, natural gas was being used for a number of industrial heating applications in the early years of the 20th century, yet no one had considered the possibility of using it as a form of heat for homes and businesses.

Parker pioneered the idea of using a single source of heat, centrally located, to provide warmth via air pipes to a home. She submitted a design for a patent that illustrated a gas-fired “heating furnace” and the patent was granted to her on Dec. 23, 1919. Her initial designs, although never actually used in any home or business, laid the groundwork for the various forms of central heating in use in homes today.

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